God is our Refuge and Strength

Dear Listener!
I greet you all in the Mighty Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He who was and is and evermore shall be. He who opens and no one dare closes, He who closes and no one dares open. He who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords; may His name be ever glorified.
In the next several weeks, I will meditate on some of my favourite Scripture verses.
I will begin with Psalm 46: Verses 1-3.
I am reading from the King James Version.
A) 1. God is our refuge and strength,
B) ...a very present help in trouble.
C) 2. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
As far as I am concerned, these verses are among the most powerful of Scripture.
In invite you, my dear friend, to pay attention as I read it a second time:
A) 1. God is our refuge and strength,
B) ...a very present help in trouble.
C) 2. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
The Psalmist is declaring that God is our refuge and strength. Now wait a moment, let us not rush through the passage! These days we do have the tendency to do exactly that. Yes, we seem always to be in a hurry; we live in the "hurry, hurry" society always in the fast lane! Everything needs to be done, and done quickly.
We adopt that attitude not only in ordinary aspects of daily life, but also when it comes to the word of God.
And so we rush through the Bible, assuming we find the time at all to read it! Our morning meditation, if indeed we devote our time for one, is done in a rush so that we may not miss the bus or train that will take us to school or work.
I am not saying I am immune to that tendency. Indeed, that is how far you and I, living in our fast moving world, have come.
No wonder many of us have become lukewarm in our Christian life. Let us sit down to consider it; if the Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect one Himself, spent several hours in prayer and meditation, what do you and I, ordinary sinners, need to do?
Now the Psalmist is declaring that
A) God is our refuge and strength,
B) a very present help in trouble.
C) Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; even though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
To better appreciate what he is driving at, we better consult the dictionary and find out exactly what the words refuge and strength stand for.
The Oxford dictionary defines refuge as: shelter or protection from danger, trouble. Etc.
The word strength on its turn is defined as: the ability that something has to resist force or hold heavy weights without breaking or being damaged.
The psalmist is declaring to the whole world that God Almighty, the Creator of the whole Universe of the planets, the sun, the galaxies: yes everything seen and unseen from the tiny bacteria to the huge whales of the ocean, from the mighty lion to the little mouse, from the beautiful roses to the thorns and thistles of the field, is his refuge and strength.
Yes, the Psalmist is proclaiming that He who called the huge mountains, the vast oceans, the arid deserts into existence, yes the King of King and Lords of Lords, The God Everlasting, is our refuge and strength. Awesome, awesome!
Let us imagine the tiny ant having the huge elephant for protection!
Let us picture the little and vulnerable mouse entering into a defence pact with the mighty and fierce lion, the lion guaranteeing the mouse a life-long protection from his most dreaded enemy, the cat!
We might well consider the situation where a dollar billionaire from the US travels to an impoverished village in my native Ghana and picks up the most destitute child he/she spots playing on the street and declares in the presence of the whole world: "I swear by my honour, that I will make sure this little child never tastes poverty throughout the rest of his/her days on earth!!"
You could also suppose yourself, dear listener, to be a fierce opponent of the government of little Togo in West Africa. The President of that country, intent on showing you where power lies, dispatches some of his security forces to arrest you. Just as they are under way, someone calls you on your mobile phone to warn you about the impending threat to your life. Sensing danger, you make it through the back door of your home and flee to the US embassy in the capital Lome.
Somehow the agents of the President get the news of your escape and give you chase. Just as they are about to grasp you, you manage at the very last minute to enter the premises of the embassy.
On producing your ID card and telling your story, you are offered refuge within the walls of the compounds of the most powerful country on earth.
Through the glass window of the premises of the consulate you spot your enemies on the street, retreating, a sense of anger written over their faces. In the safety of your refuge you, who minutes earlier feared for your life, have the audacity to make mocking gestures towards them!!
Of course there is no way we can compare the refuge provided by mere mortals to that guaranteed by the Almighty. I hope however that the illustration I have just referred to has helped to bring home to you what the psalmist is driving at.
Yes, the psalmist is declaring to the whole world that he is now within the Gates of the Castle of the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth, therefore Satan can just go to hell where he indeed belongs!
For sure the psalmist is proclaiming before the forces of darkness; before all the witchcrafts, wizards, and all other sources of evil in the universe pursuing him, that he has sought refuge under the wings of the God above all gods, the Power above all powers, the Principal Power above all principalities, so they better beware!
Oh indeed, the psalmist is pronouncing to his enemies that because God Almighty is his refuge and strength, he is neither afraid, nor frightened, nor alarmed, nor shocked, nor terrified.
How often do we hear people these days say things like; I am scared; it is scary. Scared, scary, scared. Even sons and daughters of the Rock of Ages, yes the children of the Good Shepherd, souls He has purchased with His own blood, are often heard telling the whole world how much they are afraid, or scared or apprehensive of this and that!
Not so the Psalmist. He is declaring that come what may, he does not care, he does not bother, he does not mind!
He is telling Satan to the face: ‘Hey you, you dare not venture near my place of abode, near my husband, near my wife, near my children, near my place of work, near my car whether it is parked or in motion, near my business, near my bank accounts! In short, he is telling Lucifer and all the demons under his control to the face that they can just go and get drowned in the mighty ocean!
It is said that Psalm 46 used to be the favourite of Martin Luther, the great German Reformer of the church. Eventually he wrote a a powerful hymn based on it:
A sure stronghold our God is,
A timely shield and weapon;
Our help he will be, and set us free
From every ill can happen
Yes indeed, a sure stronghold is our God, a timely shield and weapon. Our help He surely is, come what may!
Child of God, God is your refuge and strength, so do not shake!
Let Satan borrow from the American or the Soviet or the UK Army the most destructive weapon in their arsenal laser-guided precision bombs, inter-continental ballistic missiles, bunker penetration assault bombs you go on naming them and aim them at you!
Rest assured, my friend: no matter the destructive power the weapons Satan is aiming at you carries, they cannot harm you! Why should they when you have the Lord Zebaoth for refuge!!
Child of God, you have the Rock of Ages as your refuge, so rest assured; yes, there is no need to panic. I read a story the other day of a young girl who was travelling in a ship that was captained by her father. In the course of the journey, they encountered a terrible storm which threatened to capsize the ship. Whereas all around her went panicky the little girl maintained her calm. Asked by the others why she was not scared, her reply was: ‘Papa is at the helm; all will be well!’
Child of God, the Psalmist wants you to know that Papa God is at the helm of affairs so all will be well; indeed, all will be well.
The Psalmist is telling us, children of God, that we might as well disconnect the alarm system in our homes and also cancel all the insurance policies we have in place, for Almighty God will take care of all the dangers sent to us before they strike!
Of course you and I may not have that degree of faith, to go to that extent, but that in effect is what the Psalmist is driving at.
Child of God, you have Almighty God for your refuge, so you can march through life with an open chest, unperturbed about the enemies surrounding you on all sides.
No fears, brother, no fears, sister, no fears, soldiers of Christ; yes indeed, let us throw fear to the dogs, for the enemy dare not venture too close to us.
Indeed, the blood of the righteous one was shed on Calvary on our behalf, so the principalities and powers in the high places dare not draw near us.
Tell yourself, "They dare not!" Shout it on the top of your voice: "They dare not approach me, no way!"
Indeed, you are precious in the sight of the Lord, so those bent on destroying you should beware!

Tell Satan he is too filthy so he should not draw near you, for you are pure. Yes, you have sought refuge under the wings of the pure and righteous one, so filthy Satan dare not approach you. You are washed in the blood of Jesus.
Do not murmur the words; do not declare them with a low voice. No, say it loud! Shout, scream; yell! Declare it on the top of your voice: "God is our refuge and strength!"
Indeed, that is the attitude we have to adopt towards the great Deceiver. For, indeed, Satan does not understand diplomatic language. No, diplomatic language should be left to the diplomats who are trained to choose their words with the aim of promoting cordial international relationships. Why the need for us to practice the art of word-weighing when we are confronted by a force bent on destroying us at all cost and for no reason!!
We note that the psalmist uses the pronoun our, not my.
Instead of stating "God is my refuge and strength," he declares that God is our refuge and strength.
I do not want to speak for the composer of the Psalm, but I guess he deliberately chose the pronoun, our, instead of my, for as far as he is concerned his assertion is a matter of course, so proven to be true, it does not call for debate. Indeed, as far as he is concerned, the fact he is expressing is unequivocal, unquestionable, straightforward, explicit!
To him God’s presence is so obvious, he could not imagine anyone disputing the fact of His existence, just as no one will dispute the essential role of oxygen for life on earth.
Of course, we know in our day that multitudes reject the existence of God.
I can imagine some among such group of people wishing that they could bring the psalmist back to life and with eyes boiling with rage, challenge him to the face: "Why dare you proclaim God is Our Refuge and Strength! That amounts to false generalisation that is going against the rules of political correctness, against respect for the concept of religious tolerance. We reserve the right to summon you before the court of law to request the Law Lords to force you to retrieve your words. You may indeed have your God as your refuge; but how dare you speak for us!"
To that the Psalmist would likely respond as follows:
"Sorry about that, ladies and gentlemen. I really thought common sense was all that is needed for one to grasp what I am driving at. It looks as if for reasons best known to yourselves, you have decided to throw common sense to the dogs! Well, you may deny the fact that God is your refuge as far as I am concerned, however, God Zebaoth is my refuge and strength.
Nothing, not even the threat of persecution, can alter my stance."
That leads me to put the question to you, dear listener: just who is your refuge and strength in time of danger? Indeed, the hare being chased by the fox seeks refuge in its bolthole, the bird being pursued by its prey seeks refuge in its nest; but what about you, my friend, what about you, my brother, what about you, my sister? Where do you run to in times of danger? Yes, what or who do you look to for protection from danger?
That reminds me of the text of a gospel song I was listening to the other day. The singer, a citizen of my native Ghana, who happens also to be a pastor, says in his song that he is aware of individuals who carry their gods with them, in the form of rings on their fingers.
He went on to state that should such individuals happen to be away from home and all of a sudden realise they had forgotten their protecting ring at home, they are scared to death for fear something sinister might befall them! Yes, deprived of their presumed source of protection, such individuals begin to panic and fear the worst.
In Amantia, the little village in Ghana where my late mother was born, a form of traditional African worship is practised.
It is customary for adherents of that religion, at the beginning of each year, to pledge a lump sum of money to the gods to solicit their protection from evil in the course of that particular year. Why pledge allegiance to ordinary idols rather than to He who controls the oxygen ventilating our lungs!
It is an open secret that before many an individual from Ghana and elsewhere in Africa, embark on a journey to Aburokyire or the West, call on fetish priests /priestesses, juju men/women, voodoo priests/priestesses to seek their protection. Yes, to implore them not only to protect them during their stay in their new environment, but also to make them prosper. In return they pledge to pay considerable sums of money to the gods.
Just as in the case referred to by the Pastor in his song, they are handed items such as rings, necklaces, earrings, etc., which they are required to wear wherever they go, seeking protection from idols rather in Almighty God!!! Lord, have mercy on your children!
The other day, someone told me the story of a Ghanaian soldier who served with United Nations Peacekeeping force, UNIFIL, in Lebanon. Prior to his departure he sought protection from a juju man. The juju priest gave him a necklace that he was to wear throughout his turn of duty with the United Nations Force.
One day, during his stay, he accompanied other members of the UN soldiers on a sightseeing tour of the Holy Land. As the story goes, when they stood before the empty tomb of Christ, all of a sudden the necklace that was supposed to offer him protection was torn apart by an Invisible Hand, torn into pieces!
Juju power confronted by Divine Power had no choice but to take to its heels and flee in panic in line with scripture:
Philippians 2:9-11 (King James Version)
9. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

For the visiting soldier from Ghana, the day of salvation had come. Yes, the meeting with the Divine brought a happy end to his search for meaning in his life. Yes, at that moment he decided to follow the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
What is your refuge, dear listener, in time of trouble?
Some seek refuge in their wealth, money, property, material possessions. Putting your trust in wealth, material possessions, is indeed like building on sand!!
Some have made their fiancées and partners their refuge. Please do not get me wrong. We need to be committed to our partners and also be able to share our anxieties and concerns with them.
We must learn to put matters in perspective, though. No matter how dedicated our spouses are to us, we must realise that they are also human beings. There have been instances when some have threatened to commit suicide -yes, unfortunately have even committed suicide at the thought of losing their partners. They, as it were, sought refuge in human flesh instead of Almighty God.
Friends, no matter the affection we have for our partners or spouses, we should learn to put God first, before everything else.
When I arrived in West Berlin several years ago (Berlin at the time was still divided into West and East Berlin) a story gained headline news. It involved a lady whose dog needed surgery to cure a threatening disease. Since the individual involved did not have the means to pay for the treatment, she went to the press to launch an appeal for help. In her passionate appeal for assistance, the lady revealed to the whole world that her only living companion was the dog and that she could not imagine living without it: "If my dog dies, I will die!" Such was the bold headline in the Tabloid that carried the news!
Who/what, my friend, is your refuge in time of danger?
Several countries in the Western industrialised countries boast a generous Welfare State. In time of need -unemployment, disease, threat of homelessness. Those affected may look up to the state for generous benefits. In Germany the term VATER STAAT has been coined to describe the situation of a Father State providing help in times of need.
Some thus look to the State for refuge from the vicissitudes of life. Well, there is nothing wrong in that. What we should not forget, though, is that nations come and go, empires rise and fall, superpowers rise and fall. Only the Living God, the Supreme Commander of the Universe, remains for ever solid!
Sadly, the tendency to look elsewhere for refuge instead of to Almighty God is not restricted to those who do not call on the name of the Lord our Righteousness.
Indeed, some Christians, by their attitude, seem to create the impression that their pastors are equal if not even more powerful than the Master Himself! Man, man, man! The servant claiming equality with or even superiority to the master Himself! Yes indeed, some of us seem to create the impression that healing powers reside in their pastors instead of the Divine Himself.
Please do not get me wrong. I also attend healing crusades. Oh yes, I have travelled with the whole family to several healing crusades with one member of the family expecting Divine intervention during such meetings. For sure, the Bible teaches that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are variously distributed among the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:8-11 (King James Version)
8. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

So it is legitimate to attend such healing crusades and to expect healing for yourself or your dear ones.
In the same way you can also look up to your pastor or other brothers or sisters in Christ who are so gifted, for wisdom and guidance.
It is however wrong on our part to think such a person or persons on their own accord can make any difference. Indeed, we must resist the temptation to look to the servant instead of the MASTER Himself for refuge.
If we do, then we might as well be compared to the person I referred to earlier, who made his ring his protection. Yes, for sure, you and I could, just like that individual, be in deep trouble, for the Lord could call that servant home to rest at any time. What will be left of our Christian walk should that happen?
Indeed, if we could project our eyes into the future, into a hundred years hence, (if the Lord allows things to remain as they are), we will discover that a hundred years from now, in the year 2108, apart from the graves in which the mortal remains of the servants of the Lord we today seem to worship might still be resting until the last day, there will be little sign of the mighty men and women of God we today hold in very high esteem -yes, even to the point of worshipping.
So you and I let us learn to place things in the right perspective. Let us look to Christ, the Rock of Ages cleft for us for strength and protection, instead of the things of this world.
When I was in Germany, I was told that during the height of World War II it was customary for residents to seek protection in church buildings. In some instances, seeking protection in such places of worship did not spare the refugees from attack. It is said that as a result of that experience many lost their faith. If there is a God, why did he not protect them when they sought refuge in ‘His house’?
Under the impression that God resides in buildings, we might seek refuge in bricks and mortar! Indeed, we do gather in such Church buildings to worship Him, but that does not mean He resides in them! Since the advent of the Holy Spirit, God’s spirit dwells in us, not in church buildings.
The Psalmist indeed has learnt great wisdom by making the never-changing God his refuge.
Not in idols, not in money, not in property, not in the authority of the state.
As I mentioned earlier, Empires have come and gone, but only the Empire of God Zebaoth, the God who never changes, shall exist for ever.
Did those who lived at the peak of the Roman Empire ever imagine it could collapse?
Should those who lived at the zenith of the British Empire come back to life today, how amazed will they be to find the role, now merely ceremonial, that the Head of that empire plays in Today’s World!
Let us even consider the recent past. When I arrived in West Berlin in 1982 and saw with my own eyes the Berlin Wall and the East German soldiers guarding it at several positions from the Eastern territory; yes at the moment in time when the Soviet Union was mightily controlling the territories on the Eastern side of the iron curtain dividing Europe, who could envisage that one day the Wall of Berlin would crumble and with it the whole of the Soviet Union?
In the same way, which one of us can imagine what the world will look like 1000 years from now!
Yes. the psalmist has indeed done the right thing. He has run to the Almighty God for refuge! He is a refugee under the protecting wings of the POWER above all Powers, under the shelter impregnable to the most powerful atomic bomb produced by Humankind is real safety.
Yes, for sure, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble, so we shall not fear.
Thank you very much for listening to this programme. Please tune in at the same time next week for more inspiring words brought to you by courtesy of THANK YOU JESUS MINISTRY.